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Post office confirms move to Blue Ridge Mall

The Hendersonville post office will move into the Sears space at the Blue Ridge Mall in the spring of 2018. The Hendersonville post office will move into the Sears space at the Blue Ridge Mall in the spring of 2018.

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The main Hendersonville post office will move next spring to the Blue Ridge Mall, a U.S. Postal Service official confirmed.

The postal service will occupy the Sears space, offering post office box holders and other customers access from inside and outside the mall. Sears plans to move within the mall to a different location.
“The Postal Service is excited to have secured a new location for the Hendersonville Post Office,” Phillip J. Bogenberger, the Postal Service’s spokesman for North Carolina, said in a statement. “The 10-year lease to occupy the former Sears space with approximately 7,000 square feet will meet the needs of our customers and accommodate the growth of the community. We plan to move into the new location in 2018 and offer the same services that were available at the former location on Fifth Avenue West. There will be entrances to the Post Office from the mall and the parking lot.”
Hendersonville’s main postal facility has been in its current building since it was built in 1966. In July of 2016, the First Baptist Church of Hendersonville purchased the property from owners Larry and Elizabeth Hinkle for additional church parking. The church then leased the property back to the post office to allow the postal service time to secure another site. The search took longer than anticipated and the lease was extended through the end of March 2018, church officials said.
It is unknown at this time if the contract post office at Four Seasons Mall across U.S. 64 from the Blue Ridge Mall will close or possibly relocate to a more central downtown location.
Last year, Hendersonville officials urged the postal service to keep the post office downtown and, barring that, to open a small retail office in the central business district.
“We have many citizens who walk, bicycle, or use public transportation for work or to run errands, including to the current post office,” Mayor Barbara Volk said in a letter to Richard Hancock, the postal service real estate specialist from Greensboro who was assigned to find the new site. “Moving the facility to the outskirts of town would place a heavy burden on these citizens as well as those who wish to drive only short distances.”

Many post office box holders who visit the facility daily had feared a move to an even more out-of-the-way location — the post office annex on Lakewood Road near the Sam's Club.

On Monday City Manager John Connet issued a glass-half-full reaction to the move, which keeps the facility on the city side of I-26.

“The City of Henderson appreciates the U.S. Postal Service’s deliberate and thoughtful process in finding a new location for the Hendersonville Post Office," he said. "While a downtown location was preferred, we are happy that the Postal Service will utilize available space at the Blue Ridge Mall. This location will provide adequate parking for Post Office customers and bring potential new customers to the variety of retail stores at the mall."
The rear access to the post office would need to be renovated to provide a public entrance. U.S. Postal Service officials have not provided details of that work.The rear access to the post office would need to be renovated to provide a public entrance. U.S. Postal Service officials have not provided details of that work.The early reaction about the move from postal facility users was mixed.
“That’s ridiculous,” said Marilyn Bliss, who lives in Hendersonville. “They’ve had plenty of time to find a better location and there are a lot of elderly people who won’t go to the mall. Why not build a new building?”
Ben Balentine, who lives in Hendersonville, said he will probably give up his P.O. box rather than drive further into heavy traffic. “It’s a matter of convenience,” he said.
“People don’t want to get into high volume commercial traffic,” added Lori Fothergill. “I’ll go to the post office in East Flat Rock where it’s less congested.”
Steve Franks, whose law office is across the street from the Fifth Avenue West facility, is unwilling to make a daily trek to the mall.
“I might just give up my P.O. box and have my mail delivered to my front door,” he said. “I can save some money.”
One Hendersonville native didn’t like the idea of the mall location for another reason.
“I just don’t associate the post office with a mall,” said Charlene Varnes. “It should be a stand-alone building.” Also a post office box holder, Varnes had concerns about accessing the facility after dark.
Mary Stroman said the new location would be an improvement over the 51-year-old building the postal service currently occupies.
“Anything is better than this,” said Stroman, adding that “the mall needs a shot in the arm.”
Her friend Kathy Papes agreed. “Yes, parking is probably better at the mall,” she said.
Pam Hedstrom, who operates the Flower Market a block east of the Fifth Avenue facility, thinks the new location is a good choice.
“It will encourage more people to go to the mall and they don’t need to build a new building,” she said.
Mall walker Vann Trapp said he had heard about the move because he attends First Baptist Church.
“The (mall) parking lot is filled up only around Christmas,” Trapp said. In the six years he’s been doing laps at the mall, he said, he’s observed a drop in the number of shoppers. The increased foot traffic should help the mall stores, he said.
Another mall walker, Kim Corn, said as a driver she’d welcome the move.
“I never did go down to the one in that neighborhood because it’s so hard to get in and out,” she said. “I think it’s good to have the (mall) spaces occupied for sure.”
The Hull Property Group, the Augusta, Ga.-based mall owner, has not disclosed where the Sears store will relocate. Marketing officials at Hull did not respond to the Lightning’s request for comment.
A Sears employee said store workers were told they’d find out on Monday evening where the store would move. Sears moved to its present location several years ago after many years occupying the storefront next to the old K-Mart store.
Trapp and Corn said they had heard on Monday that Sears would relocate to the space next to Belk last occupied by the Pardee Signature Care Center.

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Editor Bill Moss contributed reporting.